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4 ways contactless order pickup can increase off-premise sales, even post-pandemic

Photograph: Shutterstock

When stay-at-home orders forced operators to shut down dining rooms nationwide, off-premise sales via delivery and takeout went from a growing trend to many restaurants’ lifeline. And despite dining rooms reopening at an ever-increasing rate, it’s not yet business-as-usual; currently, most consumers remain hesitant to dine on-premise.

According to Technomic’s Foodservice Impact Monitor, 72% of consumers are concerned that dining rooms are reopening too quickly, and 65% say that restaurants should only offer drive-thru, pickup and delivery. And, even when health concerns subside, many of the consumers who first tried ordering off-premise amid shutdowns will continue to order takeout and delivery, whether dining in is an option or not—they’ve had a taste of the convenience that takeout and delivery orders provide, and are likely to keep coming back for more. 

Long story short, off-premise dining is here to stay. And contactless order fulfillment can make the process safer, faster and overall more enjoyable for the customer. Here’s how.

1. It ensures safety

Contactless methods for both delivery and takeout can give health-conscious consumers peace of mind as they decide to order out.

However, many operators offering takeout today remain unprepared to fulfill high volumes of takeout orders. Without streamlined systems to fulfill orders for pickup, operators have been making do by putting takeout orders on a table for customers to sort through or by leaving orders on the sidewalk by the customer’s car—neither of which ensure safety or accuracy.

Automated pickup lockers from Apex Supply Technologies®, on the other hand, provide a contactless solution. Restaurant staff load takeout orders into the locker to safely and securely contain the orders until customers picks them up.

2. It increases accuracy

Many operators depend on a sort of honor code for fulfilling pickup orders, leaving all takeout meals on a table or shelf in a common area of the restaurant, depending on each customer to find the correct order and leave others untouched. Even if restaurant staff are personally responsible for handing off takeout orders, accuracy can be an issue. Keeping all orders in the same place leaves a lot of room for error—an employee could easily grab the wrong bag by mistake.

If each order is secure in its own compartment of a pickup locker, however, customers simply scan a code received via text or push notification to find and access their meal on the first try. By eliminating the guesswork, picking up orders is quicker—and safer, too.

3. It helps balance on- and off-premise service

With off-premise operator sales percentages growing more than ever before, providing excellent on-premise service while continuing to fulfill off-premise transactions quickly and accurately may present a challenge. Especially as many dining rooms are currently seating a fraction of their typical capacity, it’s easy to create a bottleneck of customers in the waiting area as on-premise diners wait for a table and off-premise diners pick up their orders. This can make the restaurant appear more crowded than it actually is and even drive away potential customers wanting to avoid a long wait.

A contactless pickup system can easily prevent this. Off-premise diners only receive a notification when their order is ready, which decreases time spent in the restaurant and helps keep the waiting area free for customers dining in. As a result, both sets of customers receiving their food more quickly and conveniently.

4. It improves employee retention

Customers aren’t alone in wanting a safe, efficient restaurant experience—employees also benefit from a contactless system that streamlines their tasks and minimizes contact with customers. For employees, order fulfillment is as simple as loading prepared orders into a pickup locker, then moving on to the next. They never have to go back to it or even think about it again. Now more than ever, time is precious for restaurant operators—and improving work conditions to retain employees can help prevent the need to devote time to training new staff members.

To learn more about how Apex Order Pickup Solutions can help keep restaurants running like a well-oiled machine even under unpredictable circumstances, visit apexsupplychain.com/foodservice.

This post is sponsored by Apex Supply Chain Technologies

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